A FIFTH-generation Victorian orchardist and Tasmanian businessman who works in the nursery industry with people living with disabilities are among Australian delegates who have flocked to Italy for international apple festival Interpoma 2016.
Interpoma is an international festival on the production, marketing and selling of the apple and is held at Bolzano, South Tyrol every two years.
Among the Australian delegates at this year’s Interpoma trade show and conference include Brad and Darlene Fankhauser, from Drouin, Victoria.
Mr Fankhauser is a fifth-generation orchardist who owns a 40-hectare farm in Victoria, where he grows most local varieties of fresh apples such as pink lady, royal gala, fuji and granny smith.
In addition to the local varieties, Fankhauser Apples is also the home to a relatively new variety, the alvina gala apple, that was found on their farm in 2000.
“We have our own variety, that was discovered on the farm 16 years ago,” Mr Fankhauser said.
“It was a tree mutation that turned out to be something good.”
Mr Fankhauser said the alvina gala was a more full coloured apple than a regular royal gala and had “much greater colouration” than a traditional gala.
“It colours well before it’s mature so it means you can pick it when it looks and tastes good,” he said.
There are about 300,000 alvina gala apple trees planted in Australia.
Mr Fankhauser said he had never been to Interpoma before and was interested in promoting the alvina gala to European markets but also to see if there was any new technologies he could learn about and take back to his farm to improve production.
Tasmanian delegate Brendon Francis said Interpoma was a chance for him to renew some old networks and create new ones as well as being able to see first hand some of the up and coming apple varieties.
Mr Francis works for Tahune Fields Nursery at Huon. Tahune Fields is a subsidiary of Oak Tasmania, a company that specialises in working with people living with a disability.
“We are here combining a couple of things, it will be interesting to see the new varieties that are being produced but also to meet and see our nursery partners,” Mr Francis said.
“It [the apple industry] is a continual network but it is hard to pick what will be the next “big thing” in terms of varieties.”
Mr Francis said often he would see plants and trees at a nursery level and it could take 10 years before it got into the hands of a commercial grower, so it was hard to pick what varieties would have an impact on the industry.
So he said events such as Interpoma were great sounding boards for what was happening on the other side of the world.
“It will be good to get different people’s opinions on the new varieties and how they fit,” he said.
It is the first time Mr Francis has been to Europe and he has never attended an event as large as Interpoma.
Second-generation orchardist Robert Russo, from Victoria, said Interpoma offered a chance to simply observe and apple growing region from the other side of the world.
“It’s really great to be able to just come and see what they’re doing at another part of the world,” he said.
Mr Russo has about 20 hectares of apples in Victoria that he supplies for the fresh and juice market.
He has his own brand of apple juice and supplies to the local cider industry.
“I’m looking forward to having a look around and seeing what’s happening,” he said.
“The growing technology and machinery that is around that might make our jobs a bit easier.”
Caitlin Jarvis is a guest of the Italian Trade Agency at Bolzano, South Tyrol for Interpoma 2016 that will run from November 24-26.